100 million years ago, the T-Rex may very well have been scratching its gross red bites with its weird little arms, desperately attempting to keep bedbug infestation secret from its Jurassic friends for fear of being blacklisted from house parties. Scientists recently discovered that bedbugs have been around since dino times, which means humans are probably not their preferred victims though it’s still unclear how this information can get them out of NYC apartments.
According to The New York Times, a team of researchers spent a decade and a half digging through bat shit to figure out what the deal is with bedbugs:
“In addition to requesting specimens from hundreds of researchers, the study’s authors personally collected bedbugs around the world. The team braved knee-deep piles of bat feces in Texas, donning masks when carbon dioxide concentrations became too high. In one Kenyan cave, they took care to avoid contamination from the deadly Marburg virus, which can be transmitted to humans from fruit bats.”
Previous studies have posited that bedbug origins are linked to human evolution, but the proof in the bat shit revealed that wasn’t true. Bats were also thought to be the original hosts of bedbugs, but that’s not so either. The original host is still a mystery. And it turns out, bedbugs don’t even like us that much:
“Whereas most bedbugs specialize on one host species, the lineages linked to humans are generalists that seek new hosts while maintaining the ability to switch back to old favorites. As plagued as humans are by bedbugs, we are a side gig for them. That fact could prove useful in forecasting which creatures may be next to colonize our homes, beds and bodies.
“To make a prediction about the next species that hops onto humans, we would have to look into species that were originally specialists, but then started to expand their host portfolio,” said Dr. Reinhardt.
Such predictions could help prevent or contain new bedbug outbreaks in an era of climate change and increased international mobility.”
Figure out what animal they want! I will gladly throw any other species to the bedbugs in order to stay a night in a hotel without spending the next month convinced my mattress is now host to a poop-orgy of insects that feast on blood and cannot die.